A murder case involving 9X Media founder Indrani Mukerjea, arrested for allegedly killing her sister three years ago, took a dramatic turn on Wednesday when it emerged the victim was her child born out of wedlock.
Police arrested Indrani, the wife of former Star India CEO Peter Mukerjea, on Tuesday on charges of murdering her “sister” Sheena Bora in 2012 and dumping the body in the ravines of Raigad district in Maharashtra.
Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria said Sheena was Indrani’s daughter and not her sister. Other officials said police are likely to make more arrests.
Sources close to the investigation said Indrani initially insisted that Sheena was her sister and that she was in the US. But Indrani broke down when she was confronted with evidence and accepted Sheena as her daughter, they said.
In yet another twist to the case, Peter Mukerjea told CNN-IBN news channel he had been told Sheena was sent to the US because she was in a relationship with Rahul Mukerjea, his son from his first marriage, that Indrani did not approve of.
Sources close to the investigation told Hindustan Times they suspected the prime motive for Sheena’s murder was her affair with Rahul Mukerjea. Indrani was scared she would lose her share in Peter Mukerjea’s property if Sheena married Rahul, they said.
“We are also investigating if the murder has anything to do with the money the couple got after exiting INX Media and INX News in 2009,” said a police officer who didn’t want to be named.
Sheena’s brother Mikhail Bora told media in Guwahati he and his sibling were born out of wedlock but declined to reveal the identity of their father. He further said he had no doubt that “Indrani killed my sister Sheena”.
TV honcho Peter Mukerjea's wife Indrani held for sister's murder
Police officials said Indrani and her driver Shyam Manav Manohar Rai were arrested on Tuesday for allegedly murdering Sheena and disposing of the body in Raigad in 2012. Both are in police custody till August 31.
Rai, 43, told police about the alleged murder when he was recently arrested under the Arms Act for the illegal possession of a firearm.
Police alleged that Sheena was forcibly taken by Indrani and Rai to a forested area near Pen village of Raigad district and killed. Her body was burnt and buried, they said.
A police team from Mumbai recently went to Raigad and recovered some bones from a spot identified by Rai. Police sources said the process of recreating the sequence of events and finding corroborative evidence had been complicated because so much time had passed since the murder.
Peter Mukerjea told CNN-IBN he was introduced to Sheena and Mikhail as Indrani’s sister and brother. The Boras and Indrani often spoke in Assamese and he couldn’t follow their conversations, he said.
He said he had not spoken to Indrani since her arrest and he was not aware of any dispute over assets and property between Indrani and her children.
Peter Mukerjea said he believed Indrani’s family had decided to send Sheena to the US because of her relationship with his son Rahul. He added Rahul had told him several times there was “something fishy” about the reports that Sheena had been sent to the US.
His wedding with Indrani in 2002 was attended by only one of her relatives, Peter Mukerjea said. “I was 16 years older and there was a disagreement and I was told that her parents didn’t want to meet (me),” he said.
Indrani had also turned down his suggestions that they should visit Assam and her hometown Guwahati, he added.
Indrani’s son Mikhail told CNN-IBN he and Sheena had been told by their grandparents that Indrani was their mother. They didn’t question Indrani about the matter because she provided money to run the household and pay for their education, he said.
“She never used to meet us. Just every month, she used to send a little funding to run the house,” Mikhail said.
He said Sheena had gone to Mumbai after passing out of Class 12.
Police have said a financial dispute was the likely motive behind Sheena’s murder.
"We have arrested Indrani Mukerjea and her driver for murder and other charges under sections 302, 201 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code," deputy commissioner of police Dhananjay Kulkarni said.
Authorities detained Rai on August 21 following a tip-off from an informer and found an illegal weapon in his possession. Officials said he confessed to killing Sheena during interrogation.
Police then called Indrani in and arrested her after several hours of questioning. A court remanded both of them in police custody till August 31.
Indrani and Peter Mukerjea married in 2002, when she was an HR consultant and he was CEO of Star India.
They established INX Media in 2007 – Indrani was the CEO and Peter the chairman. They both quit INX Media in 2009, after which it was renamed 9X Media.